Before I go any further, let me point out that I made a rather conscience decision not to bring my camera along and take any pictures for this entire week.  Those you have seen thus far were taken on my phone and they are the extent of what I shot, so proceed with the knowledge that it’s all gonna be just words from here on out, holmes.  If you’re not the reading type, this may take some effort and result in a somewhat boring existence for the next however-many-minutes it takes your brain to process this.

 
Last weekend I headed over to the local Triumph dealer and got my test ride on the 2011 Sprint GT.  I really wasn't sure what I was going to think of it between knowing the spec sheet nearly by heart and also just about memorizing every review ever written about the machine, but none the less here are my impressions.  Keep in mind that my only real calibration for this type of bike is my own S3T, and since it will be the bike that this may replace, the comparison is appropriate.

The first thing I noticed was just how uneventful the startup proceedure is - seemingly like, well, how it should be.  With my Buell, despite being fuel injected, it is necessary to to hold the throttle open a little bit on a cold start and hold the revs at around 1500-2000 rpm for a minute before the bike will idle on its own.  With the Triumph?  No such hassle - just tap the the starter and the engine purrs to life and settles into an idle with no further input from the rider.  As a bonus, your helmet and goves will not vibrate off the seat.

The storage, completely aside from the included saddlebags which will each hold a full-face helmet on their own, is plentiful.  There is a small, lockable glove box in the fairing that would easily fit your wallet and a granola bar or something else of that size, and the underseat storage is enough for some odds and ends like a tire repair kit and a light jacket or something.  Easily enough for a day ride.  The build quality seems very good, especially the switchgear which is much more dated looking on my Buell (and surpsingly the same switch gear Buell was using up until their closure in 2009).

The bike feels extremely neutral at parking lot speeds, so no surprises there - it carries its weight well in this regard.  The clutch take-up is very fast and close to the grip, but easy to get used to.  The front brake feels rather numb to me, but plenty powerful for what this bike is intended to do.  ABS is standard but I never tested it.

Throttle response and fueling are, from what I could tell, pretty much spot on.  There are no surprises in the rev range aside from some buzziness around 5000 rpm, and even though I didn't use all of it (I probably didn't shift any later than 6500 rpm or so), the engine feels a tad low on power.  Horsepower per pound, the Sprint bests my Buell by about 15% depending on how you run the math, but the Buell feels faster to my ass, especially in the lower half of the rev range.  But what the Sprint lacks in total output it more than makes up for in it's delivery.  The engine is dead smooth, turbine-like with a good exhaust note (espeically for a giant, stock can), and doing 50mph in 6th makes for about 2700 complaint-free revolutions per minute that still responds surprisingly well when the throttle is opened up.  On the other end of the spectrum, there is far less driveline slack than I would have expected with the chain final drive, considerably less than my belt-driven Buell.  Putting around at near idle in first gear gave some herky jerky-ness, but it was more than managable and gave the impression that the powerplant would not be uncomfortable in stop-and-go city traffic, unlike my 1125CR which was a nightmare in this environment, belt drive and all.

Suprisingly, despite not having nearly any bit of modern technology involved, the suspension is the next shining star on this bike.  It's plush, but not overly so, and somehow still keeps a sporting feel while absorbing any road irrugularities with magnificent poise.  Fact is, the Sprint rides over rough pavement as well or better than almost any car I've driven, let alone motorcycles.  Leaning the bike over is no problem and it holds its line very well, but the increased wheelbase and heft over my S3T makes itself very apparent when trying to change direction quickly - it is noticably slower, heavier and more lazy in the transitions, but not annoyingly so and could be something that might be improved with some suspension tuning as I took the bike out exactly as they gave it to me.  Most reviews seem to state that increasing the rear preload speeds the handling up a bit, though I'd not expect it to match a bike with a 6" shorter wheelbase and 70 fewer pounds to carry around.

Ergonomics were not unsubstantially more aggressive than my S3T, but aside from maybe wanting a set of bar risers (and that's a big maybe), I had no real complaints.  The seat is wonderful, though my short test ride wasn't enough to expose any weak points on that front.

All in all, it was a very pleasant bike, and I found whatever drawbacks it had to easily be outweighed by the things it excelled at.  If I were to have one, modifications would be minimal - heated grips for certain and most likely a top case, but items like a taller windscreen and bar risers would be 'maybes' at this point for me.

The bottom line?  I want one.